that time we almost died

For the last few days I’ve been frazzled in a way not typical for me. Life is good. Work has been busy. A new painting has been swirling around in me and seems like it wants to come out. Last night I blogged about my medical freedom being stolen by the health insurance and pharmaceutical industries. I love writing stuff like that. Then, last night and today I was working at the computer all day. When I paused my billing clock and looked at Facebook or twitter—and I did that a lot—I felt anxiety-ridden and frenetic. Click! Click! Click!

On Monday morning this past week, I was hit by a truck. I was walking my three year old in her little stroller. As we entered the crosswalk, a pickup truck began turning (right on red) and drove into us. We weren’t physically hurt beyond a little stiffness in my thigh/hip/shoulder. The palm of my hand also burned all day from where I slammed it down on the hood of the truck as I screamed. I don’t remember much of it, really. My body bent with the impact, though I didn’t fall. My daughter’s stroller had mostly already passed the truck, so it didn’t make much contact (if any, again, my memory is fuzzy).

Mostly, I haven’t talked about it. Mostly, I found myself blurting out what happened at the most surprising times. In an email to a subcontractor. To the barista at Starbucks. Blurting is the right word. Moments after it happened, I used my phone to email several people and said “I just wanted to tell people who I knew would care.” The whole day was, in retrospect, hazy and confused. I kept thinking I was making too big a deal of it, though at the oddest moments I’d burst into tears.

One of my closest friends pointed out if I kept trying to convince myself it wasn’t a big deal, my body wouldn’t let that happen and it would keep coming back until I dealt with it. Thankfully, I had what I needed for support. I did spend some time crying that night as the horrifying “what if” scenarios played out with unstoppable force.

The moment when I knew there was nothing I could do to stop that truck from continuing on into me.

The moments after, walking away quickly, just wanting to get away away away when I only wanted to be away.

Not scooping my daughter up in my arms because to do that would be to face the what if of those what ifs that I can’t put into words because they are too horrible.

The anxious, confused, disconnected, insecure, self-doubting frenzy I felt in the last 24 hours or so, I now realize, was a reminder that what happened was “a big deal.” As I consider it, I begin to lose words.

This past summer I had some important experiences that helped me rediscover the richness of offline life. Those who haven’t experienced authentic depth and intimacy in their online life might not understand what it means to forget about how beautiful offline life can be. The last day or so caused in me an uncommon confusion, an absence of connection to myself. When I wrote about being a recovered alcoholic, I wrote about tapping into an infinite source of strength. When I connect with that strength I can live mindfully in the present moment. Making that connection is, most of the time, nearly second nature. It’s more than a habit; it’s where I mostly live.

Still, I feel rattled. This chunk of hours full of anxiety and disconnection from my center are leftovers. Remnants or echoes of how I felt when we were hit by that truck. Everything was called into question. I felt an obsessive need to focus on only what is really important and to let everything else slide. I connected with people who mean the world to me, even if it was just a brief “oh my god” shared moment. Now that I’ve identified the source of the last day’s puzzling spurts of staccato existence—I’m not finished feeling all that is there to be felt about the truck hitting us—I can do something about it.

Thanks to what I learned this summer, I know that what I need to do about it now can’t be done online. There are ways my online life supports me when my offline life can’t. It was one of my closest online friends who helped me through much of the adrenaline-induced traumatic fallout the evening after the truck hit me. And now, after getting the bulk of my computer-dependent work done, I’m going to go back to those peaceful places I rediscovered offline. I’m going to breathe. Thank you for reading this.

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5 Comments

Filed under mindful living, my own chautauqua, photos or videos, writing

5 responses to “that time we almost died

  1. Julie Kaupa

    Very happy you weren’t physically insured but I know how scary it can be and how the effects last. Take care my friend. Julie

  2. Julie Kaupa

    Oops. That was supposed to say physically injured. Weird.

    • :-) I missed the typo in the first comment! Thank you. Yes. Terrifying. I still tense up in a very physical way when we cross the crosswalk (which we do, typically, 4 times each day).

      Thanks for reading and replying. Hugs.

  3. Don

    Me too: Very glad no serious physical damage. But the trauma is real and must be lived and passed through.

    Interesting comment about those “who haven’t experienced authentic depth and intimacy in their online life” because I’ve always dismissed the online life as a faded echo of the real world, while at the same time finding it so difficult to be in the present moment that I took solace and refuge in an online life. Now my offline life is pretty rich, thanks in no small measure to enablements online, yet I still doubt there can ever be balance between them. And here I am, trying to balance them.

    Well. Hugs.

    • It’s interesting that you say you’ve “dismissed the online life as a faded echo of the real world” since I’ve assumed you found similarly rich relationships that were only experienced online.

      I was going to write that nothing compares to offline life, but, online life *does* compare. It’s just different. Even though I now find more depth and richness offline than I do online, I know that is in part because I spend less time communicating online these days.

      I’d never say the two are the same. And I definitely also use online to “escape” offline because offline gets to choose how it comes at my but with online I get to choose (and, in that way, online is a lot easier). But, they both have their own kind of depth if we choose to go into the online relationships. I’d say that two of my deepest, most connected and loving relationships are with people I know online. One that I know only online, and one that lives across the country so we rarely physically see each other.

      All of that said, though, offline does really fuckin’ rule. :-)

      (And, thanks for reading, comment, supporting, and all that good stuff… here… online… :-)

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